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Moral judgement 'could be altered by antidepressants'

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Recent research has suggested that certain antidepressants could have additional effects on people's mentality.

The study, conducted by scientists at the University of Cambridge's Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Institute, revealed that serotonin enhancers tended to alter moral judgement.

Healthy volunteers who were given the drugs, which are the most common form of antidepressant, tended to show an increased aversion to harming others.

They viewed such actions as "morally forbidden", even when the ultimate outcome may have been beneficial.

Ms Molly Crockett, lead author of the paper, commented: "Our study suggests that these medications can affect people's sense of right and wrong, which influences the choices they make in everyday life.

"Interestingly, the drug's effects were strongest in people who were naturally high in empathy, suggesting that serotonin could enhance people's concern for others by making the prospect of harming them feel worse."

The research could prove significant as around ten per cent of the UK's population take antidepressants for psychiatric and medical conditions.

Depression treatment news : 29 September 2010